Supreme Court grants bail to Malegaon blast accused Lt. Col. Purohit

The Supreme Court vide order dated August 21, 2017 granted bail to Malegaon Blast accused Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit.

On 29.09.2008, at around 9:35 p.m., a bomb explosion took place at Malegaon caused by explosive device fitted in a motor cycle. Six persons were killed and about 100 persons received injuries. There was also damage to property. During investigation, it was found that the appellant who was a serving Army Officer and was associated with Military Intelligence and Interior Terrorism (Insurgency Activities), along with other co-accused in the case, entered into a criminal conspiracy to strike terror in the minds of people caused bomb blast at Malegaon by using explosive substances to cause damage to life and property and to create communal rift. After filing of the charge sheet by ATS, the investigation of the same was started by the NIA.

The appellant argued that NIA has dropped charges in respect of the offences under the MCOCA in the supplementary report. Also the fact that material witnesses retracted from their statements while complaining about the harassment and torture meted out by the officers of the ATS indicated that the investigation by ATS was not fair but was tainted. The appellant was a Military Intelligence Officer at the relevant time and had participated in the meeting in discharge of his duties for collecting intelligence and creating new sources which has also been revealed in the Report of Court of Inquiry (CoI) conducted by the Army Officers against him as well as in the reply filed by the Ministry of Defence. It was further argued that the appellant disclosed the details of the meeting to his superior officers in Military Intelligence. It was a ‘covert operation’ of Military Intelligence.

The Supreme Court observed that before granting bail factors such as the nature of accusation and the severity of punishment in case of conviction and the nature of supporting evidence, reasonable apprehension of tampering with the witness or apprehension of threat to the complainant, and prima facie satisfaction of the court in support of the charge should be considered. The Court further observed that the liberty of a citizen is undoubtedly important but this is to balance with the security of the community. A balance is required to be maintained between the personal liberty of the accused and the investigational rights of the agency. Though an accused has a right to make successive applications for grant of bail, the court entertaining such subsequent bail applications has a duty to consider the reasons and grounds on which the earlier bail applications were rejected and also to record the fresh grounds which persuade it to take a view different from the one taken in the earlier applications.

NIA had submitted supplementary charge-sheet which was at variance with the charge-sheet filed by the ATS. The appellant who was at the relevant time an Intelligence officer of the Indian Army had refuted the claim of conspiracy on the ground of Intelligence inputs which he informed to his superior officers. The trial was likely to take a long time and the appellant had been in prison for about 8 years and 8months. Hence the appellant was granted bail by the Supreme Court.